Living on the Selfless Side of Autism

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"Living on the selfless side of autism" by Janele Hoerner (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2017 Janele Hoerner. All rights reserved.

Life is not about me, or you for that matter, because when you are a mother – it is about them. However, at times I feel, selfishly, that I want this or that for myself, which distracts me from my goal of what is best for them. Therefore, these feelings for me breed anger. It is my frustration, my anger, my idealistic viewpoints that get in the way, not the fact of my children’s presence.

I would love to say that with a few minutes of self-reflective thoughts I can quickly reestablish why I am putting myself last in the first place, although I would be lying if I said I can easily do this throughout the day. I just do not! So how am I supposed to curb my feelings when my children are falling apart around me?

For our family, which includes some special-needs kids in the mix, I must prepare ourselves beforehand for the tasks ahead. For me and our family of seven, that means I can never afford to take time off. I must get up before they are awake so that everything is prepared and I must work sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.

You may say that is unrealistic: I cannot be never off. I must go out with my husband and yet, for anyone who knows my me, I truly can never be off my game. My husband and I may leave our kids at the most six times a year for a total of about two hours with my in-laws. I am not lying; I am not stretching the truth – that is it. Two birthdays a year, our anniversary, and the mandatory kid-free company event are it.

For just as Jesus was called to be at the service of others, Mary was called to be at the service of God Almighty (despite what she may have felt her needs at the time were), we as mothers are also called to serve to our own capacity. I understand that your capacity may be different than mine, but God gave us special-needs children and so we must step up.

Matthew 20 vs 28 states that

“The son of Man did not come to be served he came to serve and give his life as ransom for many.”

So are we not called to do the same, our “many” being our own children?

Despite my own beliefs of what my “many” would look like, I never pictured two boys with high-functioning autism; I honestly never pictured boys at all. They have the keen ability of bringing out the best as well as the worst in my personality. They truly push my struggle to the edge where I must constantly remind myself that they cannot help how they are acting.

You see, I feel high-functioning autism is one condition that is lost in the mix of the word autism. For it is these individuals who appear typical to the world and appear to be selfish, loud, and obnoxious that are really not able to control how they WANT to act. They truly still have special needs, despite what the world wants to see. It is as if their condition is hidden. These children do not appear to be different solely by their bodies. Their condition is not something that you can pinpoint what is able to be controlled and what is not; there is an almost impossible line in between.

Consequently, this is where I struggle! How to not become overwhelmed myself with the constant demands of helping children to not become overwhelmed, out of control, and feel as if they are going to collapse on the floor screaming. For my boys with autism and for my children without as well, one day I know I will conquer this situational anger of mine and it will be on that day that I will teach my children a very important lesson — that we can overcome our most difficult struggles to become the saints we were created to be. Our children must see our struggle, they must see our pain, and as they are to be brought along this journey of ours they will come to understand the lifelong struggle to perfection that we are all on. It is a struggle that cannot be overcome in one day. God had a reason he gave us an entire lifetime on this earth.

One day the human condition will pass and we will pass onto the divine. As I struggle day in and day out to not raise my voice in anger when the world of my household seems to be falling apart, I am working to perfect myself for my saintly title. That does not mean I am anywhere close to being there yet! God understands that I am on a journey and the love of him as well as my children will help me get to this goal of mine.

I may fail today, and tomorrow, and for the next year, but I assure you there will be a day that I will find a way to overcome and rise above. I just ask that you please do not judge me in the process!


Copyright 2017 Janele Hoerner

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About Author

Janele Hoerner is the author of Loving the Soul Beneath the Autism: An Interior Analysis of the Impact a Special Needs Child Bestows upon the Family. She wishes to help all individuals to become selfless by the presence of special needs individuals in the community. She lives with her husband and their five children, two of which are on the Autism Spectrum, in central Pennsylvania. Visit Janele’s blog at Loving the Soul Beneath the Autism.

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